COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A union representing around 4,500 educators in Columbus City Schools said Monday that there’s a better way to fund new school buildings than the latest multimillion-dollar plan from the local board of education.
To build at least five new school buildings, the Columbus Board of Education proposed a new bond and mill levy plan that included a 13% property tax increase for owners in the district. For a $100,000 home, the board said it would cost the owner an additional $267 in property tax per year. With the average home price in Columbus sitting at $325,000, that could be more than $800 per year.
The union, known as the Columbus Education Association, said it agrees with the need for new school buildings but doesn’t agree with the board’s proposition for how to get them.
“The same year Columbus City Schools lost a record 51 million dollars to tax abatements for wealthy developers and corporations, working families are now being asked to approve a 13% increase in their property taxes,” the CEA wrote in a statement. “In fact, the value of tax abatements draining our district budget has risen over 300% since 2014, according to data from the Franklin County Auditor… We call upon our Board of Education to join us in calling for the wealthiest amongst us to pay their fair share.”
The educators’ union specifically named Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and real estate development businesses Pizzuti Companies, Thrive Companies and Kauffman Development in their note. The union accused the mayor and city council of giving these companies “big tax breaks to pad their profits while washing their hands of responsibility for funding our schools.”
While the union expressed disagreement with the funding plan, it also noted it’s in the midst of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement for education staff in Columbus City Schools. The current agreement between the district and the union expires in August.